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New hub to care for the carers in response to sector burnout

9 June 2022 at 9:00 am
Danielle Kutchel
A new wellbeing hub will provide a central library of resources tailored to the needs of social sector workers.

Danielle Kutchel | 9 June 2022 at 9:00 am


New hub to care for the carers in response to sector burnout
9 June 2022 at 9:00 am

A new wellbeing hub will provide a central library of resources tailored to the needs of social sector workers.

Action on burnout and mental ill-health in the social sector is one step closer, thanks to a new funding commitment from the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation.

The XFactor Collective Foundation announced on Thursday that the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation would commit to funding the creation of the Social Sector Wellbeing and Resilience Hub.

The hub will act as a central repository of content and resources related to organisational and individual mental health and leadership. Work on building the hub will begin in July, with resources – including self-paced training, webinars and downloadable content – to roll out from April 2023.

Content will be provided by subject matter experts and leading mental health organisations and will be tailored specifically to social sector organisations and their staff.

The creation of the hub follows a research study conducted in 2020 by The XFactor Collective – RESET 2020 National Impact + Need Research Study – which revealed the high levels of poor mental health being felt among social sector workers.

The research found that 45 per cent of respondents often or always felt stressed or anxious, and 41 per cent felt frustrated, cynical or exhausted.

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Additionally, 80 per cent of respondents told researchers that pre-pandemic ways of working were leading to widespread burn out.

The XFactor Collective Foundation found that these feelings were exacerbated by a number of factors, including funding uncertainty, workforce shortages, the impact of rolling natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic, and exposure to confronting issues.

The research found that 31 per cent of respondents wanted help to manage the mental health and wellbeing of their staff and volunteers.

Burnout, mental ill-health all too common

Sarah Davies AM, chair of The Xfactor Collective Foundation, said that the sector had been so focused on helping others, it had lagged in addressing its own mental wellbeing.

“It’s become increasingly expected that not-for-profit groups and social sector organisations do more with less – yet the demand on them is increasing, and more and more people are feeling the effects of burnout,” she said.

“It is no longer acceptable – indeed, it is the elephant in the room – that social sector organisations, their staff and volunteers are on a perpetual mental health rollercoaster. There is much we can do to improve mental health wellbeing, and in turn, improve social and community outcomes.”

She welcomed the support of the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation to help create the Social Sector Wellbeing and Resilience Hub.

The hub will include measurement and benchmarking tools so organisations can track their wellbeing and resilience, as well as engagement activities to raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing.

“We have been working towards this since we ran the RESET 2020 National Impact and Need Research Study, and 80 per cent of respondents told us that pre-pandemic ways of working were leading to widespread burn out,” Davies said.

“At that time – early on in the pandemic – 45 per cent were feeling stressed or anxious, always or often. And it’s only become more challenging since then.”

Tailored support desperately needed

Jill Roche, CEO of Brave Foundation, told Pro Bono News that the need for the hub was “far more pronounced now”.

“There’s just a level of receptivity to conversations about the need for support for… mental health and wellbeing. There’s a groundswell of acceptance that something needs to be done. And I think it’s just the right time,” she said. 

“Everyone has experienced so much and the conversation is just constant about how people are feeling and doing.”

Over the last 12 months, Roche said she had noticed that her team’s resilience levels were lower.

Brave has responded to staff members’ needs by adjusting roles and allowing people an additional two days of wellbeing leave.

In addition to the standard employee assistance program, Brave offers its staff trauma-informed counselling if they need extra support.

Roche said the measures had been well received by her team – but the hub would be an extra resource that could be drawn upon for support when needed.

“There’s so many organisations and individuals that have great ideas and solutions that we just don’t have the opportunity, time or resources to explore and tap into, so I think having a hub to be able to go to is going to really assist small organisations in particular, like Brave,” she said.

Another benefit of the hub will be the voice it adds to conversations about mental wellbeing, allowing workers to feel like they are able to access and ask for help, she said.

Having a resource specifically tailored to the sector would also make the resources more “contextually relevant” to the specific challenges being faced by social sector workers, she added.

“People in our sector can experience burnout, but it’s not something that people necessarily feel comfortable kind of admitting you’re because you’re focused on the people that you are working to serve, the beneficiaries,” Roche said.

“You need other access to other tools and resources that enable you to sustain your effort in the work that you’re doing. This is something that is very needed in our sector and has not necessarily been easily accessed before now.”

Dr Catherine Brown OAM, CEO of the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, said the foundation understood how needed the project was.

“Throughout the COVID pandemic, we have monitored the changing support needs of the community and the social sectors. The leaders and staff of charities and not-for-profit groups have carried heavy loads and we have been aware of the need for mental health support,” she said. 

“We hope that the Social Sector Wellbeing and Resilience Hub will be a lasting legacy that continues to support the charitable sector into the future, whatever challenges we face.”

To stay in touch with news about the Wellbeing Hub, subscribe at the foundation website.

The Xfactor Collective Foundation would also welcome interest from anyone else in the sector who would like to support the project. Inquiries can be directed to Julia Keady at

Danielle Kutchel  |  @ProBonoNews

Danielle is a journalist specialising in disability and CALD issues, and social justice reporting.

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